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Local man sets out for Brooklyn in Sandy's aftermath

  • PHOTOS BY ED MORAN John Drury tests the weight of the huge tree that crushed a car across the street from Brooklyn Technical High School following hurricane Sandy.
    PHOTOS BY ED MORAN John Drury tests the weight of the huge tree that crushed a car across the street from Brooklyn Technical High School following hurricane Sandy.
Published November 13. 2012 05:01PM

"I wanted to do something," explained John Drury. "I just had a calling. Maybe it's part of my spiritual nature."

In New York City, nine days after the worst of hurricane Sandy, although things were getting better as the cleanup progressed, things were about to get worse. As a nor'easter was sweeping snow across New Jersey into New York City, Ed Moran, who lives part-time in Jim Thorpe and part-time in Brooklyn, called Drury and told him that help was needed-especially by people who have been evacuated from nursing homes.

This need spoke to Drury, who is a retired physical therapist, a spiritual leader at All Faiths Tabernacle - a community worship gathering held on Sunday mornings at the Mauch Chunk Museum, as well as being active in numerous community service and business groups in Jim Thorpe.

"Moran's church, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, is heavy duty involved in all this kind of stuff," Drury said. "He offered to let him stay at his apartment. He thought I could help, and I wanted to help."

Drury set out for Brooklyn, alone, on Wednesday night, November 7. "It was a stupid thing to do because I had to drive through a storm. It took me 4-1/2 hours to get there because there was snow on I-78 in New Jersey. Trucks were stuck, and at one point I was stuck. The worst part was, with the blowing wet snow, all the signs were covered. I had no idea where I was."

Drury finally made it to Brooklyn, arriving at Ed Moran's apartment. New York City had set up the system to assign volunteers. "The amazing thing, you can go online and sign up and give the last four digits of your Social Security number and then show up," Drury said.

They headed to the market and bought $1,000 worth of supplies that they took to the nursing home patients that had been evacuated to the seventh floor of Brooklyn Technical High School. Across the street from the entrance to the high school, a massive tree had completely crushed a car parked on the street.

It was midnight when Drury arrived at the tech school evacuation center. By then, the nursing home evacuees were asleep. "I worked from midnight until 4 in the morning," Drury explained. "Our job was, when these people awakened, we helped them to get to the bathroom. Otherwise, we collected trash in plastic bags."

During his stay, Drury helped in four different locations, serving at the Park Slope Armory, an Episcopal Church in Brooklyn that had been turned into a shelter by the Occupy Wall Street people who were now committed to public service, winding up at a Catholic Church in Staten Island.

Ironically, since by now it was 10 days past the worst of hurricane Sandy, and still donated supplies of blankets and clothing continued to arrive. Not only were they no longer needed, they were becoming a problem-there was no place to put them. Drury was assigned to bag all the stuff that people had brought and take it to the Salvation Army. Others were assigned to head off the trucks and turn them around.

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